Sunday, February 28, 2010

I just had a great idea for a blog:

a blog in which every post is just an apology for how long it's been since the last post.

I've been a bit out of my mind the past week: visiting Principal Investigators, data collection, preparing for WAY BIGGER data collection, filing for human subjects research clearance, writing surveys... living the dream. Aaaaand it's looking like it's gonna keep up at this pace (or more) through at least mid-April.

On the up-side, the rain has been awesome lately! Well, as long as I'm not boda-boda-ing around town to meetings all day. That gets interesting. Nothing says "professional" quite like walking into a meeting looking like a drowned rat in a trashbag. Keeping it classy, representing the muzungus (actually, "bazungu" for more than one "muzungu").

And in lieu of more substance... look! It's me working!

Frantically putting together all the materials my research team needed to get out to the field a few weeks ago. Notice the massive pile of things I screwed up on the floor.

Aaaaand Daniel tells a senior economist of the Boston Federal Reserve bank How It is:
Cool guy! We ran and drank beers and survey-pretested and survey-designed together.

*Note: I have trimmed both hair and beard since these pictures. The beard's grown back though. You may know me as Mountain Man Ugandaniel.

Aaaanyway. Off to bed for me. Maybe to Gulu (in the north) next week to do some more survey pretesting... hopefully. It would be nice to get the hell outta Kampala for a minute or two! My developing black lung could stand a day or two off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Themes are for sissies.

So there's this little building at the end of my block in which there is the empty shell of what was clearly once a restaurant. I find myself randomly daydreaming about opening up a restaurant there. It would be rad! Okay, really I just want to open a restaurant there because I just want someone to open a restaurant there. And if I opened it, then I could hang out in it ALL the time! Sweet!

I'm trying to get Kate on board, mainly by telling her that a) we could dress the staff in Awava products and b) we could call it Kate & Katz! How could you NOT want to eat there?? We'd have sandwiches and smoothies and home-roasted coffee (Dave could come as a consultant to teach us how to roast in a popcorn-popper) and Ugandan food (but somehow make it have flavor) and avocado on EVERYTHING.

From Ugandaniel

Wouldn't you TOTALLY want to eat here? Seating outside on the terraced lawn too..

From Ugandaniel

Grrrrreat view (I like to come here to stretch after I run and enjoy the view)

In totally related news, I went to Ssezibwa falls with Lisa, Dave (why do I seem to find myself so regularly surrounded by Daves?) and Dave's buddy Joel for the day Sunday. It's about 25 miles outside of Kampala and was wonderful just for getting out of the city and breathing breathable air for a day:

From Ugandaniel

From Ugandaniel

From Ugandaniel

(really, really disappointed in myself for not peeing off this)

Went for a wander and stumbled upon this:
From Ugandaniel

Apparently this area belongs to the Kabaka (the king of the Buganda tribe)... and they use it for some sort of interesting juju magic sorta stuff. Yes, those are little spears in there.
...not gonna lie, kinda felt like Indiana Jones there for a second. Then I got the heeby-jeebies and promptly skeedaddled.

And on the subject of waterfalls and ju-ju magic, whoooooo loves African wax-print fabrics???

From Ugandaniel

Bought this fabric for 5,000 shillings and had a local tailor it as a copy of another shirt for 12,000 shillings... all told ~$8.50 for a custom-made superrad shirt!

A close-up of the fabric (and a little bit of my BEARD):
From Ugandaniel

Friday night (chronologicality be damned!) was a pretty interesting night. A whole gaggle of us decided it was a good idea to pay 30,000 shillings to see (wait for it... wait for it...) R KELLY in concert. HAH. Seriously. R Kelly.
Zain - a local (?) phone company - has been advertising for this concert SINCE I got here. That's a solid 4 months of billboards and radio spots and, uh, more billboards. So you gotta go, right? For the spectacle of it all.

Well. Getting in was almost worth the price of admission. That is, if you're into paying money for getting yourself in the middle of several almost-riots and watching a cop bludgeon the hell out of some folks and having a gun fired into the air right next to your ear and having two of your friends be pickpocketed (almost three... but Dave managed to stare his would-be pick-pocketer into submission). Woo!

And then R Kelly graced us all with his presence for... 50 minutes. And he didn't even find it in himself to play a single ENTIRE song. It was basically like putting an R Kelly greatest hits album in a CD player and handing a hyperactive 8-year-old the remote: intro, chorus, next song. intro, chorus, next song.
Don't get me wrong. I was pretty okay with the short set (I think I first checked the time and groaned only about 10 minutes in). But most of my fellow concert-goers (and the next day's newspapers) were... less than thrilled.

How much was mR. Kelly paid for said (mini)appearance? SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Not 750,000 shillings... 750,000 DOLLARS. wooooooow. All told, apparently Zain spent ~$3,000,000 on the show.

Also, a wonderful bit of logic-flow from Ms. Kate von Achen:
1. Uganda is viciously anti-homosexual.
2. as is evident from conversations with Ugandans, Ugandan newspapers, arguments from supporting lawmakers, etc, Ugandans tend to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia (as an example: a march of several thousand children a couple weeks ago in support of the anti-homosexuality bill, the overarching theme of which was "protect us from being violated"... hmmm...)
3. Therefore it can be ascertained that Ugandans are pretty vociferously anti-pedophilia
4. R Kelly is a (convicted? at least strongly-alleged) pedophile
5. a Ugandan interest therefore spent $3,000,000 to, with massive public support, host a high-profile individual who violates (pun intended) a powerfully important norm to Ugandan culture.


I will say one thing for the man, though: he has an AMAZING voice. He sang a handful of (parts of) songs a capella... and I was honestly blown away. Nice to see a pop star who actually has very legitimate talent.

And remember. If work is ever just too overwhelming, you can always nap on the job:
From Ugandaniel